Review: Lil Baby & Lil Durk, ‘The Voice of the Heroes’

Lil Baby and Lil Durk secure their customary streams on a collab album with rapturous performances but zero shelf life.

The announcement of a Lil Baby and Lil Durk album spurred out of nowhere. It can vaguely be traced to a friendship developed over the last year, and chemistry that showed promise on January’s “Finesse Out the Gang Way”. Nobody was demanding for a full-length album, but the thought of two of the hottest rappers converging is always enticing. Their Instagram posts turned out to be more than a false promise. The Voice of the Heroes arrives at brimmed 18 tracks, executive produced by basketball player James Harden and featuring appearances from Travis Scott, Meek Mill, Young Thug and Rod Wave.

Though far from the worst effort, The Voice of the Heroes is another example of collaborative rap projects being a product of the moment, with little takeaways and too much to chew on.

Baby and Durk occupy a subgenre that is currently suffering from repetitive and uninspired artistry. Both rappers and others drop music frequently, making the quality control difficult to manage. Among a spontaneous, cobbled 18-track album there are bound to be a mere handful of tracks that can be championed. Such is the case with The Voice of the Heroes, an album that is consistent in its mechanical sound but struggles to create standouts in the way a Drip Harder or Super Slimey did.

Scattered across the project are songs that do their best to shine. “2040” is the album’s most energetic moment, with both Baby and Durk laying crisp verses and a memorable hook. The momentum continues onto “Hats Off”, another song where the focus is on the duo showing to doubters they are capable rappers. It is also refreshing to hear Travis Scott match that mission, who has over the years let listeners down in his guest verses.

“Please” and “Rich Off Pain” demonstrate what is possible when a song has a solid hook, an element that The Voice of the Heroes regularly turns a blind eye to. “Make It Out” reps for the struggles that have taken Baby and Durk to the position they are in today. Moments like these can get lost in the breadth but keep The Voice of the Heroes afloat.

The true crux of the album is the tasteless production. The signature urgent-or-sombre piano is the sole melody for half of the beats. Beats like these are textbook ‘pain trap’, but leave Durk and Baby tackling a void to fill. To an ear looking for even a gram of variety, songs like “How It Feels”, “That’s Facts” and “Who I Want” are trudging contributions to a pure borefest.

What The Voice of the Heroes does do is prove Lil Baby can spit, and shouldn’t be dismissed as a mere sing-songster. His performances are closely in line to those displayed on My Turn, and is responsible for the couple melodies that turn up. Luckily, Lil Durk is able to match him, rarely feeling like an afterthought when Baby has set the bar for the first lap of a track.

Lil Baby and Lil Durk focus on the rapping, sacrificing the melodies and production that results in yet another lacklustre hip hop collab project. A solid ten-track album lays within the tracklist, but for an album spread across 7 different labels, The Voice of the Heroes could easily be pit as a quick cashgrab.

6 / 10

Best tracks: “2040”, “Rich Off Pain”, “Bruised Up”, “Make It Out”

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